Scheme at 2 Finsbury Avenue drawn up by Danish architect 3XN
London’s tower builders have been put on notice after British Land submitted long-awaited proposals for a 37-storey office tower at its Broadgate development in the Square Mile designed by Danish architect 3XN.
Sir Robert McAlpine has been carrying out much of British Land’s redevelopment of Broadgate and is nearing the end of work on 100 Liverpool Street, whose completion has been delayed by the covid-19 pandemic, while it is also working on AHMM’s 1-2 Broadgate.
But other tower builders have been running the rule over the latest job at 2 Finsbury Avenue which is 3XN’s first project in London.
British Land’s head of development Nigel Webb said it was “too early to say” what the developer’s building plans were on the scheme, adding it was the first time it had worked with 3XN. “They’re a hugely exciting architect,” he said.
Firms which have worked with 3XN before include Multiplex with the pair teaming up for a 50-storey office building in Sydney called Quay Quarter Tower which is due to finish towards the end of next year.
The scheme for 2 Finsbury Avenue will see two buildings at 2-3 Finsbury Avenue built by British architect Peter Foggo in the 1980s knocked down and replace already consented plans by Arup for a 32-storey tower that was approved in March 2018.
As well as the taller East tower, the revised scheme will feature a smaller, 20-storey West tower with the pair linked by a 13-storey podium that will contain green spaces and communal areas.
The design is being developed with the goal of being net-zero carbon in both its construction and operation. The interiors for the office will be developed in collaboration with behavioural scientists from 3XN’s innovation arm GXN to provide a comfortable working environment.
They will include flexible workspaces that cater for individual and collaborative work as well as spaces for socialising.
Lead times for obtaining cladding, roof tiles, timber and lifts could lengthen in the event of a no-deal outcome on Brexit, a new analysis by Build UK and the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) has found.
Cladding and lifts, which are mainly imported from Europe with minimal stock held in the UK, are most at risk of disruption, the report found. Build UK advised that buyers should place orders for such items earlier than they normally would to avoid potential disruptions in the event the UK leaves the EU without a trade deal on 1 January 2021.
Buyers could also face paying more for items, with suppliers preparing to pass any extra costs onto the supply chain. Build UK said costs from tariffs and other import factors could add 2-8 per cent to the price of items.
The analysis covered dozens of products from more than 150 suppliers, giving each a green, amber or red rating indicating the risk of disruption. No items received the high-risk ‘red’ rating.
The report’s authors said the overriding message was that “much earlier” engagement was needed across the supply chain.
The list of products and the risk of disruption rating will be updated over the coming months.
The prime minister’s pledge to ban gas boilers from new homes by 2023 has been withdrawn.
The promise first appeared on the Downing Street website this week attached to Mr Johnson’s climate plan.
But the date was later amended, with the PM’s office claiming a “mix-up”.
The original statement from Number 10 announced this goal; “2023 – Implement a Future Homes Standard for new homes, with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency.”
That means no room for gas central heating, which is a major contributor to the emissions over-heating the climate.
The latest version of the 10-point climate plan on the Number 10 website includes the line: “Homes built to Future Homes Standard will be ‘zero carbon ready’ and have 70-80% lower carbon emissions than those built to current standards.”
Crucially there’s no target attached to the new version of the policy – the 2023 date has disappeared.
New office starts in London fell by half in the six months to 30 September, Deloitte Real Estate’s latest crane survey has found.
The specialist property consultant found that just 240,000m² foot of new office space construction started across the capital in the period – 50 per cent less than between October 2019 and March 2020 – and described the London office real estate market as facing a ‘state of suspension’.
The company analysed data and carried out a poll of the largest developers to gather its conclusions.
It found that the total office space under construction in central London stood at 1.4 million m². This is almost the same as six months earlier, largely because developments have been slow to complete since the pandemic hit.
The firm predicted that fewer new construction starts were likely to take place in the short to medium term as a result of weaker occupier demand, a lack of development finance and the economic downturn. Developers and investors were also wary of committing to new projects because of the popularity for continued home working among the UK workforce.
Insurance giant L&G has set up a business to develop build-to-rent homes in suburban locations across the UK.
The investment arm of the firm, which has grown a huge residential development operation in recent years, said its Suburban Build to Rent business would deliver 1,000 homes a year by 2024.
Legal & General Capital (LGC) said its new business would develop homes directly and deliver them in partnership with existing UK housebuilders.
The build-to-rent sector has grown rapidly in recent years to an estimated value of £10bn. Until now it has been largely focused on city locations, with apartments targeted at young professionals.
LGC said its new business was designed to be the UK’s “first-choice” suburban build-to-rent platform, and would create “much needed, high-quality family homes in areas connected to schools, transport infrastructure and key amenities.”
The £1.7bn Stonehenge tunnel project in Wiltshire has been approved by the government.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps has given the project the formal green light by granting a Development Consent Order for work to start on the A303 Amesbury to Berwick Down (Stonehenge) scheme.
The announcement follows a detailed planning hearing last year. There is now a six week period in which the decision may be challenged in the High Court.
The upgrade includes eight miles of dual carriageway, a tunnel at least two miles long underneath the World Heritage Site, closely following the existing A303 route, a new bypass to the north of the village of Winterbourne Stoke and junctions with the A345 and A360 either side of Stonehenge.
Highways England has shortlisted three bidders for the job.
Announced in March, they are BMJV, a joint venture of Bouygues and Murphy; HDJV, a team including German firm Hochtief and Spanish contractor Dragados; and MORE JV, comprising Spanish outfit FCC Construcción, Italian firm Salini Impregilo and Austrian specialist BeMo Tunnelling.
The preferred bidder is expected to be announced in 2021.
Glancy Nicholls scheme would be city’s tallest resi building
Glancy Nicholls is facing a judicial review of the decision to grant planning for its 51-storey residential tower in Birmingham.
The High Court ruled there are several grounds for challenging the consent including Birmingham council’s failure to tell its planning committee about objections from the Victorian Society. The amenity’s society’s views and expertise should not be “brushed aside”, said Mrs Justice Lang.
The £160m scheme, granted planning in December 2019, is for 667 build-to-rent flats, retail and leisure facilities in two towers of 51 and 15 storeys, replacing the old CEAC building on Jennens Road.
Rising order books hit by materials shortages
The recovery of construction activity across the UK slowed to a five-month low in October.
While output increased during the month, the rate of expansion was the weakest since June, according to the latest IHS Markit/CIPS construction PMI.
Its total activity index fell to 53.1, from 56.8 in September. The index has registered above the 50.0 no-change mark in each month since June.
Explaining the slowdown, Duncan Brock, group director at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply, said: “Activity growth in the construction sector dipped a little in October as supply chain challenges impacted on productivity and some of the momentum from the last few months leaked away”.
Housebuilding was the best performing area of construction activity in October thanks to pent-up demand, posting an index score of 62.4, although the speed of recovery did ease slightly from September.
There was also another rise in commercial activity, with the index sitting at 52.1, although the latest expansion was the weakest for five months.
But civil engineering activity dropped for the third month running, with the index falling to 36.4. The rate of decline was the steepest since May.
New rules on public sector jobs to come into force next April
Main contractors which fail to explain why they have not paid 95% of invoices within 60 days will be barred from winning public sector jobs under tightening procurement rules.
The measures were announced by the Cabinet Office last week as part of a tightening up of procurement rules to promote faster payment times within the industry.
Construction sites will be able to stay open throughout the new national lockdown in England, the prime minister has said.
In an address to the nation on Saturday, prime minister Boris Johnston said that the sector should continue operating during the new period of restrictions, set to run from Thursday (6 November) until 2 December. He said: “The virus is spreading even faster than the reasonable worst-case scenario of our scientific advisers […] so now is the time to take action because there is no alternative. Workplaces should stay open for where people can’t work from home, for example in the construction and manufacturing sectors.”
Construction was the subject of fierce debates during the March lockdown, with some questioning a lack of clarity from government on the issue after the initial announcement.
The prime minister added that the government will extend the job retention scheme, which was due to end this month, until December.
The extended support will allow furloughed employees to receive 80 per cent of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500. Under the scheme, employers will only have to pay National Insurance and pension contributions. The Job Support Scheme, which was due to start on 1 November, has been postponed until the furlough scheme ends in December.